Alarming rise of Islamic State in India and Iraq

There is extremely alarming news about expansion of Islamic State (ISIS) activities in Iraq and India. According to media sources, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) searched seven locations in Kashmir in connection with a case relating to attempts by ISIS to recruit youth in India.

The National Investigation Agency said, Islamic State is posting jihadist propaganda materials online to “radicalize impressionable youth by projecting a skewed narrative of imagined injustices in India”.

Police officials said that the central agency sleuths raided a few locations at Achabal in Anantnag and detained at least five youths for questioning. The officials also searched a religious seminary in Srinagar besides a few locations in Awantipora and Baramulla.

“In order to execute its nefarious plan, an organized campaign has been launched over the cyber space, which is supplemented by on-ground terror financing activities,” the NIA said in a statement.

According to the NIA, Islamic State terrorists operating from various conflict zones along with its cadres in India have created a network wherein ISIS related jihadist propaganda material is disseminated for radicalizing and recruiting members to the terror organization’s fold. All of this is done using pseudo identities.

“In this connection, an India-centric online propaganda magazine, ‘Voice of Hind’ (VoH), is published on monthly basis with an aim to incite and radicalize impressionable youth by projecting a skewed narrative of imagined injustices in India to arouse a feeling of alienation and communal hatred,” the agency statement said.

The NIA claimed its searches led to recovery and seizure of a large number of incriminating documents and digital devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptop, hard disks and t-shirts with ISIS logo printed on them.

Meanwhile in the city of Kirkuk, Iraqi special forces are continuing operation to find hideouts used by Islamic State militants in the rough terrain of hills and lowlands crisscrossed by canals and long-dried seasonal river gullies, or wadis as they are called in Arabic.

According to Iraqi special forces, four years after their astounding defeat in the battle of Mosul, Isis militants are regrouping. Small bands of fighters attack military and police checkpoints, assassinating local leaders and assailing electricity transmission grids and oil installations. Their numbers are still a fraction of when the caliphate ruled large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Deprived of local support in cities and towns after the devastation they wrought upon communities, and unable to hold territory in the face of much superior government forces, they have resorted to a quasi-nomadic existence.

With their financial resources severely depleted, they seek shelter in the mountains and gorges and constantly move until enough resources and men are mustered to organize an attack.

A senior intelligence officer stationed in the region said that this area, a triangle of land between Kirkuk in the north, Baiji in the west and Samara in the south, is very important to the group. “It’s in the center of Iraq and connects the hills and mountains in the east, a perfect place to hide, to the deserts in the west that would lead to Syria. They will never let go of this area”.

Although the number of ISIS fighters in the region is small at the moment, they are working to recreate the conditions that allowed them to control the area. If they were left unchecked, Islamic State in Iraq would soon manage to organize and regroup.

According to counterterrorism experts, Islamic State now are in the same situation as Al Qaeda after their defeat in 2009. They went underground to regroup and reorganize; it took them less than three years to come back stronger.

Daesh or Islamic State members are entering Iraqi cities and villages every night, especially in search of food. Locals are becoming increasingly fed up with such acts of extortion and snatching-away of food and daily requisites. But they can’t say anything, as everyone fears of his/her life. Silence of nights remind Iraqis of those horrifying days of ISIS notoriety, and they fear, the same horror would return soon, may be in much enhanced shape.

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